A new study has found that people who like traditional Southern diets rich in fried foods and sweet tea are in danger of experiencing heart attacks, strokes and premature death.
James Shikany, lead researcher and field expert from the University of Alabama (Birmingham), gave a statement advising those whose “overall pattern of eating seems to closely match” the components of a traditional US Southern diet to start moving away from it.
The issue is a serious one as the American Heart Association informs that 735.000 people living in the United States experience heart attacks on a yearly basis, and almost 120.000 die as a direct result.
What’s more, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) doesn’t have any good news either as it informs that heart diseases, and heart attacks in particular, are the main cause of death for men as well as women. However, the CDC also suggests that keeping in shape, exercising regularly, adopting a healthy diet and not smoking can help prevent such an experience.
While previously conducted studies have focused on analyzing the effects of individual foods, or of a specific part of someone’s diet, Shikany said that more recent research has focused on the effects of someone’s overall diet.
To reach their conclusion, Shikany and his colleagues looked at data gathered from 17.418 people with the age of 45 or older. Subjects were selected from across the country.
They analyzed a set of interviews from last year, with questions on the subjects of food and diet, and identified five (5) main dietary patterns.
The first pattern referred to people who ate a great number of convenience foods such as pizza, pasta dishes, Mexican food, Chinese food, and other foods that people generally order from a restaurant chain.
The second pattern involved consuming a great variety of plant-based foods such as fruits and fruit juice, vegetables, cereal and beans. But healthy foods that are not plant-based were also included in this group – yogurt, fish and poultry.
The third pattern was dubbed the “sweets” pattern. It contained a lot of chocolates, desserts, candy, sweetened breakfast foods, and added sugars.
The forth pattern was the “Southern” pattern. People who preferred this one consumed a lot of typical Southern foods such as processed meats, organ meats, eggs, fried foods, foods with added fats and sugary beverages.
The fifth and final pattern was the so called “alcohol and salad” pattern. Those who prefer this diet mostly consume beer, wine, strong liquor, tomatoes, green leafy vegetables, and salad dressing.
There were almost six (6) years of follow-up in which the research team registered 536 heart attacks, some which resulted in death.
The results showed that people who preferred to indulge in the Southern diet had 37 percent (37%) more of a chance of experiencing a heart attack during the follow-up period. What’s more, when the experts took into account control factors such as age, weight, blood pressure levels, race and education, the results stayed the same.
The findings were published earlier this week, on Monday (August 10, 2015), in the journal Circulation.
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